The San Francisco Botanical Garden is an unlikely spot on a typical tourist weekend in San Fran. Golden Gate Bridge? check. Muir Woods? check. Fisherman’s Wharf? check. Alcatraz? check.
In my quest to see the great public gardens in America, my husband and I spent a rainy Saturday morning exploring the delightful (and free!) San Francisco Botanical Garden.
We arrived at the perfect time for spring Azaleas and Rhododendrons. Above, a lovely red one that must have been twelve feet high and at least as wide. although, admittedly this is the kind of thing you can see in any lovely public garden, amongst a setting of tall Monterey Cypress (top), it was unique.
The garden has a really interesting history- developed to look like the grand European and East Coast (of the US) gardens, it was planted on a windswept bunch of sand dunes on the western side of San Francisco, just downhill from the Twin Peaks. The temperate climate makes it ideal for growing many different kinds of plants, and we saw everything from fuschias to rhodies, to tree ferns.
The Garden of Fragrance, as the passive-voice wonderful smelling garden is called, was very well executed. Lately, I have been in love with stone walls, and these served to raise the fragrance closer to your nose. It would also make the garden more accessible for disabled folks, if you were to do it at home. The plant varieties- beyond herbs and other typical plants, were arranged in such a lovely way.
Of course, being San Francisco, there is a strong asian influence on everything- and the gardens are no exception. On our trip we saw hundreds of Japanese Maples; large and small, in every imaginable color.
My favorite flower of the trip was the Echiums. As you know, I’ve long admired these plants. The contrast between the Echiums and the Japanese Maples made the garden uniquely California. (Not to mention the redwoods, but that’s another post).
Finally, (since I almost always tour a garden backwards) the delightful rock garden with its wierd seafoam green plant that was so low to the ground it looked like moss. I want this plant. If I’d had any sense whatsoever, I would have written down the name! If you know, dear reader- please tell me!
Next time you are in San Francisco, take a break from the typical sights and check out the San Francisco Botanical Garden: it is worth a visit– and if you are still Jet Lagged from wherever you come from, go early and see it before the crowds arrive- there was hardly a soul in the whole garden!